There are differences between American and Finnish culture and it is not important that everything the Finns do be directly applicable to the American school system. There are important lessons for us here that cannot be ignored including the question of readiness for school, the importance of social learning, the need to address special education needs without creating conflict between schools, parents, and communities over budgetary issues, the need for meaningful vocational courses of study, and the importance of separating the functions of home and school. I strongly favor limiting the amount of homework children are required to do, at least until they reach an age where they are personally and voluntarily opting for paths of education that call for high levels of academic discipline (i.e., in high school and choosing a college preparatory track). For the young child who likes to work with his hands, I would much rather see him cleaning and tuning up his bicycle than be forced to spend his time doing things that were assigned at school.
Dr. Kenneth Goldberg is a clinical psychologist with 35 years of professional experience in dealing with many different psychological issues. He is the author of The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Students and Teachers and currently works in his own private practice.
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